Outgoing host of the ABC’s Q+A Stan Grant program ended his tenure on the show with an impassioned, sincere message to both his supporters and critics, reflecting on his Indigenous culture and the racist abuse that drove him off the air.
Fighting back tears, Grant revealed he was stepping away from the show to take some “time out”, noting he no longer had the strength to power on as his “soul is hurting”.
He thanked his supporters for backing him but, humbly, suggested their kindness would be better directed at those less fortunate than him who feel “abandoned and alone”.
He also spoke directly to those who have sent him abuse, showing compassion for them.
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“To those who have abused me and my family, I would just say – if your aim was to hurt me, well, you‘ve succeeded, and I’m sorry,” he said before paying homage to his culture.
“I’m sorry that I must have given you so much cause to hate me so much, to target me and my family, to make threats against me. I’m sorry. And that’s what ‘yindyamarra’ means. It means that I am not just responsible for what I do, but for what you do.”
Grant admitted he was feeling “down” however said he had the resilience to “get back up” again. He said that, if he was ever met with such racial abuse again, he would respond by sharing the “love of (my) people”.
“My people can teach the world to love. As Martin Luther King Jr said of his struggle, ‘We will wear you down with our capacity to love,’” he recited.
“Don’t mistake our love for weakness – it is our strength. We have never stopped loving and fighting for justice and truth – the hard truths – to speak in our land.”
Stan Grant said an emotional farewell to viewers of Q+A. Picture: Twitter
In a final point, Grant took aim at the media, particularly social media, and how it was the “poison in the bloodstream of our society”.
“I fear the media does not have the love or the language to speak to the gentle spirits of our land. I’m not walking away for a while because of racism – we get that far too often. I’m not walking away because of social media hatred. I need a break from the media,” he said.
“I feel like I’m part of the problem. And I need to ask myself how, or if, we can do it better.
“To my people – I have always wanted to represent you with pride. I know I might disappoint you sometimes but, in my own little way, I’ve just wanted to make us seen. And I’m sorry that I can’t do that for a little while.”
The outgoing host thanked his family before ending with a beautiful message in his native language.
Grant’s final episode featured a panel comprised of first-term members of parliament: Labor member for Higgins Michelle Ananda-Rajah, Liberal member for Flinders Zoe McKenzie, ACT independent Senator David Pocock, Tasmanian independent Senator Tammy Tyrrell, and Greens member for Griffith Max Chandler-Mather.
While the host waited until the end to deliver his parting message, the first audience questioner of the evening, Anaru August, brought up the abuse he’d suffered.
“I have been disgusted by the hatred and abuse that has been fired at Stan Grant because of his colour and the articulation of his professional essence, I ask the panel what needs to happen to stop hate speech,” said Mr August.
Anaru August asked the first question. Picture: Twitter
Mr Pocock, a former captain of Australia’s rugby union team, was first to respond, and said the referendum on an Indigenous voice was a “real opportunity” to have a conversation about racism. He said “we clearly have a long way to go”.
“I think we really need more leadership from politicians to stop playing the politics with us and recognise this for the opportunity it is – to take up a generous offer from First Nations people, a consensus position from them on how we can start to address some of the systemic issues we’re seeing,” Mr Pocock said.
“From my time in rugby, something that struck me – when you see someone like Stan, what’s happening to him, or were watching (AFL star) Adam Goodes getting booed, that’s not just Adam Goodes getting booed. That has a ripple effect.
“And to see my Indigenous teammates and the effect that had on their mental health – this is something that we’re going to have to come to terms with as a country.”
Dr Ananda-Rajah argued there was “no place” for vilification in the community.
“I think with First Nations people … they’re only at 3.8 per cent (of the population), an extreme minority in this country,” she said.
“You can live your whole life and never meet anyone with First Nations heritage. I think that is the problem here, that we just do not understand their lived experience.”
Mr Chandler-Mather addressed the ABC’s failure to adequately support Grant.
“When you don’t have your own people backing you up … that was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” he said.
“I think the ABC and all sorts of organisations need to hold the mirror up and say, ‘When that happens, we need them to know that they’re part of a broader family.’”
Finally Ms McKenzie weighed in by thanking Grant for his “grace, kindness and continuous openness” and acknowledged the outpouring of support he had received for speaking out.
“What you have been through, what your family‘s been through. The testimony some of your family members made today. The outpouring of love we saw for you today. That gives me hope,” she said.
Monday night marked Grant’s last appearance on Q+A. Picture: Supplied
‘I have had enough’
The 59-year-old unexpectedly announced he would be leaving Q+A in his weekly column on Friday, where he recounted how recent events made him feel like he didn’t “belong”.
“There’s a photo of me, one of the few school photos I have. I am seven years old, the darkest face in the class in 1970s white Australia,” he penned.
“I look scared. I’m not smiling. My hands are clasped tight. My uniform doesn’t match. Unlike the other boys I have no tie. There’s a stain on my second-hand jumper.
“I look for the world like I don‘t belong.
“I don’t know that I have ever changed from that boy. These past weeks I have been taken right back there.”
Stan Grant in his school photo from 1971, Stan is in front of the teacher. Picture: Stan Grant/ ABC
Grant said it was “the last column I will write for the ABC for a while”.
“On Monday night I will present my Q+A program, then walk away. For how long? I don’t know,” he said.
“I am not beyond criticism. I occupy a privileged and prominent place in the media — I should be critiqued. And I am not thin skinned. Aboriginal people learn to tough it out. That’s the price of survival.
“I am writing this not because I think it will make a difference. No doubt the haters will twist this, too, and trigger another round of racism.
“I am writing this because no one at the ABC — whose producers invited me onto their coronation coverage as a guest — has uttered one word of public support. Not one ABC executive has publicly refuted the lies written or spoken about me.
“I don’t hold any individual responsible; this is an institutional failure.”
The ABC’s director of news Justin Stevens later acknowledged in a lengthy statement that Grant had been the subject of “grotesque racist abuse, including threats to his safety”. The abuse escalated after his participation in the ABC’s coverage of King Charles’ coronation.
Grant, a Wiradjuri, Gurrawin and Dharawal man, was invited by the broadcaster to participate on its coronation panel earlier this month, where he “pointed out” his views on the monarchy.
In his column, Grant argued “the crown represents the invasion and theft of our land” and noted how Indigenous Australians were “massacred” and had their children taken away.
He said his words had been “distorted” to depict him as “hate filled”, which would inspire “regular” racial abuse from people who “hear only hate”.
“On social media my family and I are regularly racially mocked or abused. This is not new. Barely a week goes by when I am not racially targeted. My wife is targeted with abuse for being married to a Wiradjuri man,” he wrote.
“I don’t even read it, yet I can’t escape it. People stop me in the street to tell me how vile it is. They tell me how sorry they are. Although I try to shield myself from it, the fact it is out there poisons the air I breathe.”
He later brought to light the Voice referendum, noting that while he’s not “beyond criticism”, the stakes for his community were high.
“There is a referendum on an Indigenous Voice to parliament and I am not alone in feeling judged. This is an Australian judgment on us. Such is politics,” he wrote.
“But racism is a crime. Racism is violence. And I have had enough.”
ABC News later tweeted Monday’s Q+A episode would be Grant’s last, with the journalist to also pause other commitments with the broadcaster until further notice.
Grant (right) alongside co-chair of the Australian Republic Movement Craig Foster, Liberal MP Julian Lesser, presenters Jeremy Fernandez and Julia Baird on King’s coronation panel. Picture: Supplied
‘We can do better’
The ABC’s managing director David Anderson has since issued a public apology to Grant after he went public with his struggle.
“Stan Grant has stated that he has not felt publicly supported,” Mr Anderson said.
“For this, I apologise to Stan. The ABC endeavours to support its staff in the unfortunate moments when there is external abuse directed at them.”
Mr Anderson also agreed to launch an investigation of ABC responses to racism affecting staff.
“The Chair and Deputy Chair of the ABC’s Bonner Committee have asked me to conduct a review to investigate and make recommendations about ABC responses to racism affecting ABC staff, and what we can do better to support staff who face it,” he said.
He said he was “dismayed” that Grant had been exposed to such “sickening behaviour”.
“The experiences of ABC presenter and commentator Stan Grant following our coverage of the coronation of King Charles III have been distressing and confronting for the ABC, as they should be for the entire media industry and the broader community,” he said.
“Stan has our full support. And he has always had our full support. Stan makes an enormous contribution to conversations of national importance.”
The ABC’s managing director has since apologised to Stan Grant. Picture: Supplied
Grant’s resignation draws nationwide support
News of Grant’s resignation prompted his colleagues, media peers and Indigenous advocates to immediately rally behind him.
7.30’s Sarah Ferguson tweeted that “the abuse directed at him is disgusting. There are no words adequate to the horror we feel at this. Stan is brilliant and cherished”.
Journalist Tracey Spicer immediately responded and wrote, “this is always the aim of bigots to silence powerful voices”.
Long-running ABC morning breakfast host Virginia Trioli tweeted: “I’m appalled and saddened that Stan Grant, a brilliant broadcaster and thinker, has been forced from the ever-crucial contest of ideas.
“If this country can’t have a civil debate about recognition, racism and the legacy of colonialism then we are lost. I hope he returns soon,” she wrote.
ABC staff staged a walk out on Monday to support Stan. Picture: NCA Newswire / Gaye Gerard
Twelve hours after her original tweet, Trioli provided an update which revealed the magnitude of the racism Grant was contending with.
“Since tweeting in support of Stan Grant my timeline has flooded with the most awful racist s*** and inflammatory Voice disinformation. Very few of these accounts actually follow me, so what evil Elon also draws this stuff to my account?” she wrote.
The support continued late into the afternoon on Monday where staff at the ABC staged a walkout over Grant’s exit at both Sydney and Melbourne offices.
“ABC staff are walking out in support of Stan this afternoon,” ABC staffer Dee Jefferson tweeted earlier on Monday.
“Stan’s experience of racist abuse is shared by so many colleagues. Listening is the smallest part of what we can do to help clean up this mess.”
David Spears in protest over the departure of Q+A host Stan Grant. Picture: Twitter.
Fellow ABC host Patricia Karvelas also tweeted this afternoon saying “#istandwithstan #werejectracism”.
The same hashtags were used by a string of renowned ABC personalities and staff, including Trioli and Insiders host David Speers.
‘Enough’: TV channel quits ‘racist’ TwitterABC boss’ fury over Stan Grant exit
Grant’s decision to “step away” from the program comes less than a year after being appointed the show’s permanent host, with discussions now being held about who will be his replacement.
– With Brooke Rolfe and Mary Madigan